Proposal pending at State Capitol could add a trigger for purging voter rolls
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - If you don’t cast a ballot every election cycle, you’ll want to pay attention to what’s pending at the State Capitol.
House Bill 1310 adds to the reasons that local election commissioners can purge the rolls.
“Over the course of two general federal elections, a presidential election and a midterm election, if a voter has not voted, if a voter does not update their voter registration, if we haven’t heard from them, then a confirmation notice will be sent to them,” explained Senate Elections Committee Chair Sen. Jeff Tate during the floor debate.
Here’s what the Secretary of State’s website lists as acceptable reasons for purging a voter from the rolls currently.
Voters may be purged from the voter roll for five reasons:
- A written request by the voter to be removed from the voter roll
- Conviction of a disenfranchising crime within the State of Mississippi
- Adjudication by a Court of incompetence
- Moving his or her residence outside of the county or the state.
But it also notes in all caps: A VOTER MAY NOT BE PURGED FROM THE VOTER ROLL BASED SOLELY UPON INACTIVITY OR HAVING FAILED TO VOTE.
However, that would be added as a trigger under this proposal, and getting that postcard would start a four-year clock.
“You’re moved to inactive status,” explained Secretary of State Michael Watson. “If you don’t update your registration process, if you don’t come into the circuit clerk’s office, the lot of things that you could do to basically re-up your status, then you will be moved to that purge status after that process takes place.”
Under the proposal, if you showed up to vote and you’d already been moved to inactive status, you’d have to vote by affidavit ballot. Once you’re purged from the rolls, you would have to re-register. Cleaning up the rolls is a task Secretary of State Michael Watson says is needed.
“It’s one of the foundational pieces of making sure that your vote is the one that you cast,” said Watson. “And when that was counted, it all starts with the voter registration rolls.”
However, One Voice fears the proposed change could come with unintended consequences.
" We talk to people every day who said, ‘Well, I went to vote a couple of years ago, and my name wasn’t on the roll, so I just never went back,’” described One Voice Executive Director Nsombi Lambright-Haynes. “It’s embarrassing to people to show up and not be able to vote. So again, we are trying our best to encourage people to vote, not to discourage people to vote in laws like these make our work very difficult.”
The bill will likely undergo more changes before the end of the legislative session.
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